Wanted: Staff with a true passion for arts education
The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection
Arts administrators or project co-ordinators
There are growing signs that, in tandem with developing the West Kowloon Cultural District, the government is paying more attention to developing the right kind of manpower.
But Lynn Yau, chief executive of The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection (Aftec), still finds hiring the right people difficult.
'There is a serious lack of arts administrators at all levels. Over the last few years, there have been many programmes in arts management operated by tertiary institutions, and that's very good. However, graduates still need two to three years of actual hands-on experience after that, before they begin to understand the many facets of arts administration,' says Yau.
The not-for-profit organisation is recruiting full- or part-time arts administrators or project co-ordinators dedicated to education, as a large part of Aftec's work is educational.
The consortium of three partners has one adult and two youth theatre groups performing in Chinese and in English. It also has youth leadership programmes and works with disadvantaged children, among other activities.
Applicants should be able to run projects, communicate, plan, schedule, liaise with outside parties, work with venue management, and attend rehearsals and produce reports.
'In the past eight months, I have seen more and more young people applying. They have a great passion for the arts - but only when things don't go too well will they know how passionate they really are,' Yau says.
She adds that passion is seriously needed, as a major part of an arts administrator's work is constant problem-solving, and there is no one single formula for running an arts organisation.
Ideal candidates should be able to think on their feet, have an adaptable mind and always be looking for various solutions. 'You can't refer to an arts admin manual,' Yau says. 'You have to be very open-minded and flexible. What would work this year may not always work next year.'
The consortium was set up in 2009 as part of the Hong Kong government's venue partnership scheme that allows participating organisations to apply for a specific venue that they can use for 56 days a year.
'We applied for the Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre because we like this community. There is a great variety of people from different backgrounds, as well as social and economic status,' Yau says.
This year, the consortium won a second three-year lease period, and also found invaluable backing from the Hong Kong Jockey Club as its main sponsor.